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Deadly parasite kills two Neti Pot users

Sinus rinses have become a very popular item for allergy sufferers. But, Louisiana health regulators now warn if they are used improperly they can be deadly.
Sinus rinses have become a very popular item for allergy sufferers over the past few years. But, Louisiana health regulators now warn if they are used improperly they can be deadly.

The little blue neti pot looks like something that would brew tea, but people on the streets of Salt Lake City know better.

"You clean out your sinuses by using water," said Amanda Theobald.

However, Theobald had no idea that in the past year, two people have died using a sinus cleanser.

"That’s horrifying!" she said.

Doctor Saurabh Shah is an ear nose and throat doctor at LDS hospital. He said several of his clients use a nasal flush daily.

"It’s becoming so popular here because it is so effective and so people use it especially in drier climates," he said.

Shah also said they don't become dangerous, until human error is introduced.

"When you put your own water in it, tap water is safe to drink, but it's not really safe to use in these," Shah said.

According to Louisiana health regulators, in 2011, two people died after using tap water that was infected with the amoeba Naegleria Fowleri. The parasite penetrates the thin bone between your sinuses and your brain causing an infection.

"Then you get meningitis or basically a brain infection that's lethal," Shah said.

While the amoeba is very rare, and not commonly found in tap water, other bacteria like e-coli and dysentery are. And all can make you very ill, so it's best to use a sterilized water source.

“Either you want to boil the water to get rid of all the bacteria and amoebas that can be in there, or you want to use distilled water," Shah said.

By taking a few extra steps, you can continue the routine that soothes your nose without putting your life in danger.
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